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To That One Issue Voter

September 5th, 2012

Usually I try to stay away from politics, I've been told over and over it's bad for business. Kind of like sport teams or your choice of operating systems, we tend to define ourselves by who we chose to vote for and support. There is a reason why people say, "_________ is my man" or "I'm a __________ man", it because when entering the poles, we tend try and find the person that has a viewpoint and beliefs that are close to our own or as often the case someone that is the lesser of what we consider two evils. Though I’ve voted in every Presidential Election since 1988, I can’t really think of one candidate that I would call my man. 


Some may say that this is because I’m jaded, which in part is true. One of my earliest memories is watching the nightly news during the Nixon Watergate scandal. I really have had very little faith in any politician since. Carter was possibly the smartest president we ever had but was way in over is head. Reagan maybe was one of the most popular Presidents of all time but he suffered him a split personality and I don’t know if we will ever really know the truth. Was he really a hands on guy or just a face for the men running the show. The Iran Contra always seemed a little too business as usual to be just an isolated incident. Bush Sr. was a wildly unpopular president at the end of his term but he kept Iraq at bay and contained, raised Taxes because it was the right thing to do even if it didn’t mean a second term. 


Then we move on to Clinton. He’s bedroom activities were a joke to say the least but I think I lost faith when he backed away from Gays in the Military and healthcare reform right at the start. It set a precedent that would continue through his Presidency. Also he stewarded a short gain economic rise fueled by a dangerous stampede of deregulation. Removing a great of the safety net that was put in place during the great depression to insure that it didn’t happen again. We are now feeling the effects.


Don’t even get me started on Bush Jr. The 2000 election not only pointed out the fact that the American public didn’t really want either of the options but the recount and Supreme Court decision only seemed to reinforce the public's feeling that their vote didn’t count. Though I’m not sure who would have been the right man to lead us through the aftermath of 911. We will never know if Gore would have reacted differently. However as upset as I was on 911, my reaction would not have been to get us into a never ending occupation of Afghanistan. Oh and my wildest dreams would have seen us in Iraq. I’m still unsure if he was on it or just a stooge following the advice of his advisors. 


That brings us to Obama. He selling point was Hope. Yes America had very little hope in 2008. The Economy was in the toilet and had been on a steady downhill slide for 2 years. We were in two shooting wars with no end in sight. I think if anything dew me in it was the promise of Universal Health Care. Though as Americans we have been told over and over about the failed socialized medicine in the UK and Canada. The reality is different. Yes, it has it’s limitations but the really reason that it seems to be disliked in this country is it does a pretty good job of taking some of the profit out of the business. 


There is this word that for the last 50 years or so that has been used to define this country and the word is “Capitalism”. The odd thing is that it wasn’t really used to describe the USA all that much until the beginning of the Cold War and it amazes me that time and time again I hear people say, “This country was founded on Capitalism.”  No it wasn’t. This country was founded for a number of reasons and trade was one of them but I think being self governed, free of unfair taxes and freedom of speech were of much more importance to our founding fathers than letting Business run amok without government interference. One of the pillars of government’s contract with it’s citizens is to protect them against harm and exploitation. 


Back to Socialized medicine. At the end of World War II, the British government came up with a novel conclusion, If they could win a war against the best equipped and strongest enemy of modern time, then they could also provide healthcare for all it’s citizens. Sure taxes would increase but the amount of increased taxes compared to what the average person was paying in healthcare costs would be less. The U.S. answer to the problem was to increase government aid to medical students. The result was an increase in the number of doctors and a decrease in the level of skill of those in the medical profession. End result was an increase of malpractice and the cost of Healthcare in the U.S. increasing to the point where only those insured could afford healthcare. While in the UK doctors are paid less but everyone gets health care.


Though Capitalism claims that it is all for a free market, the reality is that it is served best with limited competition. That is why it tends by it’s nature to try to limit the freedom of Market. The introduction of Socialism tends to throw a huge wrench into it’s business by creating a situation where it would in fact be trying to sell a product that the government gives away. Thus the consumer gets the best deal. There is a reason that companies without competition tend to provide treible products at prices well beyond their value. Simply because they can. 


For example the current view in the mobile phone industry. You got to love Apple’s game plan. Create a extremely innovative product. Then get a number of vague and often unitarian patents. Next you dominate a market until most of the general public views any other manufactures produce as a cheap knock off. Now here’s the real insight into capitalism, release a number of versions of your product with minor improvements that have become standard features of your competitors for years. Give your customers the impression that not only is it your idea but that it’s cutting edge. Use the word “perfected” a lot. Now here’s the real crucial step, when the rest of the market has caught up and begins to out sell you, drag them into court on all those patents you filed and eliminate your competition, while making mild improvements on your outdated product. 


You might be saying to yourself, “Isn’t that the point of Patents, To protect yourself from another company stealing your ideas and competing with a product just like yours?” In theory, yes but what if you hold a patent on something like a steering wheel? You might think that’s crazy and you may also think that I’m over simplifying a much more complex issue. Yes you would be right but the way in which the U.S. Patent office works, you can get a patent and if no one else has that idea patented then the patent is given. Then it’s up to the courts to decide if the patent is valid. In other words take 12 people that claim to have no bias and then bore them to death with countless details that they may or may not understand. In the end the decision is not made by an expert but an average Joe.


The end outcome is that you punish those that innovate on their competitor’s ideas. Giving consumers less options, the patent holders the ability to overprice their product and reduce innovation and competition.  Which is exactly the reason the patent office was created to increase innovation and provide a free market. The patent is supposed to be a block that cause the development of new products and ways to do something instead of competitors just simply stealing ideas. However when you have patents for shapes, hand gestures and colors of icons, it only blocks advancement on those ideas and the patent holder has no incentive to innovate, the market stagnates and the consumer gets screwed.


Now I’m sure by now you are wondering what all of this has to do with a Political Race or Health Care. It has a great deal when you consider this is the power and mentality that runs this country. You come up with a solution to a real problem and that solution affects a number of industries that have gotten very used to the high profits and lack of competition of business as usual and they will bring all their power to bear to insure that nothing changes. I’ve watched a number of good men march off to Washington with the best intentions, only to find themselves tangled in a bog of outside political pressure. 


However you might say that it was the general public that put a great deal of pressure on the powers at be to kill Universal Health Care. Maybe true but you have to ask yourself why? How do you get someone to fight against their own best interest and the interest of their children? It’s simple you make them believe that something is going to be taken away from them. You present a simple one issue statement that will create such fear and hatred that they would give up their first born to avoid it. It doesn’t matter if the facts say different if the source has the ear of the public, the statement is believable and a majority of the general population is apathetic. 


Now this is a stretch but I think it goes away to make a point. Most of the most heinous crimes against humanity were committed in societies filled with rational sane people. Every tribe has some silly idea that becomes an axiom regardless of it’s merit. This is usually created by those in power creating and spreading the idea while the majority fears to speak out. Racism is a prime example of how you can convince an educated majority of most irrational ideas by playing upon their fears. Especially if you dress the lie up in an idea of the betterment of society or use morality as the motivation. 


A prime example would be the ERA which was last put to a vote in Iowa in 1992. Here’s a simple amendment that would simply add equal rights based on sex. The ERA came out of the Sufferance  fight for the rights of women to vote. Roughly a month before the election the media was flooded with mis-information that had nothing to do with the amendment. One of these was that it would allow men to use women’s restrooms. Also there were hints that it would expand homosexual rights and lead to same sex marriage. Both were completely unfounded but effective in killing the amendment.


One issue politics is not a modern invention. In fact it has been used to effect the outcome of elections and  set back social reform in this country for over 100 years. It was first used by the Anti-Saloon League at the beginning of the 20th century. During the years leading up to Prohibition, the American political system was not divided by party as much as it was divided by the Wet(those against Prohibition) and the Drys(those for Prohibition). The ASL gained so much political power that an election could be determined not by the values or ability of a candidate but by whether they were dry or wet. Also ASL members used their power to dictate how a member of Congress voted because voting against the ASL would almost guarantee no re-election. 


A little known fact is that ASL were one of the main powers behind the 16th amendment to the constitution which made the Federal Income Tax permanent in 1913. Though the Fed had collected income tax during the Civil War and for a short time in 1880s, a majority of the governments income came from Tariffs and  taxes on bonds and products like tobacco, property and distilled spirits. In fact the revenue from Alcoholic beverages made up close to 35% of the Fed’s income. The income from liquor taxes was a major stumbling block for prohibition and the ASL brought all it’s power to insure that members of Congress and the State Legislators voted in favor of the 16th amendment and then 18th amendment.We all know the outcome of Prohibition. Crime, sexual revolution, and the loss of 800,000 jobs.


Now I’m sure that members of ASL had good intentions even though a majority of it’s leaders prove to be corrupt and power hungry. At it’s heart the idea sounded sound, take alcohol out of the lives of American men and you will have a better home life, better workers and a better America. Alcohol in the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century was considered the cause of all of America’s wrongs. Poverty, abuse, crime, homelessness, mental disease, and immoral behavior were all blamed on the drink. However there was also a less vallant reason to outlaw spirits and it was driven home over and over. Feeding on the fears of every white American. Alcohol was the demon that feed the power of the growing power of the cities filled with immigrants with different morals, cultures and beliefs than the native born white protestant. Even the KKK and other racist organization were pro-dry.


See this was a powerful and established minority forcing morals that they felt were the bases of our country on a ever growing majority that had a culture, religion and moral beliefs that differed from theirs. That scared the hell out of the natives because they saw their culture changing with the introduction and blending of these new cultures. The punchline is that prohibition just speed up the blending of cultures and the decay of the protestant value system. One important lesson that seems to have been lost on everyone is that a government can not regulate the morality of its citizens.


Which brings me to the point I hope to be making, if you want change in this country, it’s time to back people that are unwilling to “play ball”. That have enough faith in their fellow citizens to know right from wrong to not quickly play into bi partisan politics. People that understand that change is brought about by wild men that stand their ground and not those that poll the crowd for their own opinion. Give the American public a choice other than who is the less of two evils. Stand out and if you want re-elected, stand your ground.


As voters it’s time to stop listening to the sound bites and one issue politics. These trigger words are only there to play on your fears and distract you from the real issues. Vote with your head and not your stomach. Don’t accept cancellation prizes filled with so many compromises and complexities that you are unsure whether you are better off or not. Remember that the phrase “Big Government” doesn’t mean a reduction of your civil rights. It in fact means increase regulations of big business and an increase in social programs that benefit you the citizen. Understand that one person regardless of his level of power can not bring about change. There are 535 members of congress and congress plays a much bigger part in what direction this country goes than the President. When choosing issues to base your votes on, think about issues and not what you are morally against. For far too long the voters of this country have been manipulated by button moral issues like Abortion, Gay Marriage or pray in schools when we should have been focusing on equality, job creation, poverty, healthcare and foreign policy. 


Above all Vote. It was a hard earned right that many have gave all they had to give. Your vote does count regardless of what you have been told. It is an expression of what direction you wish your country to go.

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